Catecholamines in Blood
A test for catecholamines measures the amount of epinephrine, norepinephrine, and dopamine in the blood. These catecholamines are made by nerve tissue , the brain, and the adrenal glands. The test also may measure the amounts of metanephrine and normetanephrine.
The normal values listed here-called a reference range-are just a guide. These ranges vary from lab to lab, and your lab may have a different range for what's normal. Your lab report should contain the range your lab uses. Also, your doctor will evaluate your results based on your health and other factors. This means that a value that falls outside the normal values listed here may still be normal for you or your lab.
- High levels of catecholamines, vanillylmandelic acid (VMA), or metanephrine can mean that an adrenal gland tumor (pheochromocytoma) or another type of tumor that makes catecholamines is present.
- Any major stress, such as burns, a whole-body infection (sepsis), illness, surgery, or traumatic injury, can cause high catecholamine levels.
- Many blood pressure medicines can also cause high catecholamine levels.
Low levels of catecholamines usually do not indicate a problem.
What Affects the Test
Reasons you may not be able to have the test or why the results may not be helpful include:
- Doing physical exercise.
- Having extreme emotional stress.
- Having surgery, injury, or illness.
- Taking certain medicines, such as aspirin, nitroglycerin, tricyclic antidepressants, tetracycline, theophylline, or some blood pressure medicines.
- Using nicotine, alcohol (ethanol), or cocaine.
- Taking nonprescription cough, cold, or sinus medicines.
- Eating or drinking foods with caffeine.